Department of Transportation

No backlog after all? LTO finds 1.7M stockpile of unclaimed license plates

Lance Spencer Yu

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No backlog after all? LTO finds 1.7M stockpile of unclaimed license plates

Alejandro Edoria/Rappler

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista tells Rappler that they will launch a website for claiming the 1.797 million replacement plates stuck in regional offices

MANILA, Philippines –  After state auditors flagged the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for failing to deliver more than 1.7 million license plates, transportation officials told Rappler that the plates were actually already in LTO regional offices – it turns out, they just haven’t been distributed yet.

“There are already 1.7 million [plates] available but unclaimed,” Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista told Rappler in an interview on Tuesday, July 18. “’Yung 1.7 [million plates], nandoon na sa offices. Hindi lang nadidistribute (The 1.7 million plates are already in the offices. They just weren’t distributed.)” 

Earlier, the Commission on Audit said that the LTO still had a backlog of 1,797,115 plates for motor vehicles. This referred to the replacement plates paid by owners upon the renewal of their four-wheeled motor vehicle registrations as far back as 2015. Only 764,514 plates were actually produced by LTO, according to the state auditor.

However, an LTO official confirmed to Rappler that after conducting an inventory check of license plates across regional offices, the agency found that there is no backlog of replacement plates. 

“We currently have 1.7 [million] pieces undistributed since 2016. These plates are actually a direct replacement for the green plates,” LTO spokesperson Alex Uy told Rappler in an interview on Wednesday, July 19. “The replacement plates are all in the regional offices.”

Documents obtained by Rappler also showed that millions of plates remained unclaimed in various LTO offices and dealers. Below is LTO’s inventory report as of July 4, 2023; the number of unclaimed plates tallied by LTO has since risen.

Website for claiming of plates

To facilitate the distribution, the LTO is set to launch a website that shows motorists where they can claim their plates. Users only need to enter their existing plate number to see the availability and location of their replacement plate. Upon claiming their new plate, the motorist must also surrender their existing license plate.

WEBSITE. Pictured here is the license plate replacement inquiry website soon to be launched by LTO. Land Transportation Office.

“Actually, we are developing an app internally na paghalimbawa you access the system, you can input your existing plate number at makikita mo kung nasaan siya, kung available,” Bautista told Rappler.

(Actually, we’re developing an app internally. When you access the system, you can input your existing plate number, and you’ll see where it is and if it’s available.)

The transportation secretary said that the website will also work for those whose plates have yet to be made. Using the web portal, motorists may find out when their plate will be available.

LTO’s Uy also confirmed that the website could go live as early as Thursday, July 20. 

“To answer the distribution process, we made a website. It’s an inquiry where you type your license number and then it will show you what district office you have to go to receive the license plate,” Uy told Rappler.

(READ: LTO launches e-driver’s license)

Procurement for other backlogs

But even with the supply of replacement plates in LTO offices, officials said that the agency still has to catch up with several million more plates.

“Moving forward, nawalan pa rin tayo ng plates on 2020, 2021, 2022, until today. That is basically the procurement [needed] now to answer the backlog since that date,” Uy said.

In response, the LTO welcomed the delivery of 108,400 motor vehicle plates, the first shipment of the 16,040,640 plates procured by the Department of Transportation. The winning bidder, Trojan-Tonnjes Joint Venture, will deliver 60,000 plates to the LTO every week. Bautista also added that because of the “transparent bidding” process for the plates, the government saved about P1.2 billion.

NEW PLATES. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista holds up a newly delivered license plate on Tuesday, July 18. Land Transportation Office.

“In a nutshell, we won’t have backlogs anymore because of the bidding and the current supply in LTO. Today, we don’t have a motor vehicle backlog. Our backlogs are all motorcycles,” he added.

Bautista also told Rappler that LTO’s problem was now the backlog of motorcycle plates. But with the newly procured plates, he expects this to be resolved by early next year.

Siguro by first quarter of next year, dapat tapos na ‘yan. Tapos ‘yung plate-making machine natin, kailangan ng improvements (By the first quarter of next year, it should be done. And the plate-making machine also needs improvements), so I’m fixing it. I already talked to the systems provider for the maintenance,” he told Rappler.

Rappler Talk: DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista on modernizing PH transport infrastructure

Rappler Talk: DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista on modernizing PH transport infrastructure


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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.